The style or shape of jewelry may evolve as trends come and go, but just like a diamond, turquoise is forever. But when it comes to shopping for this precious stone, not all turquoise is the same.
This blue-to-green gemstone can vary in value based on where it comes from, availability, the grade of turquoise and how much time goes into preparing it for use. Learn how to become an educated shopper and get the best value for your dollar.
Spotting Quality Turquoise Jewelry
The price point for turquoise jewelry ranges widely from inexpensive to a steep investment. Several factors contribute to a piece’s final cost, according to Laura Ingalls of Laura Ingalls Designs in Palmyra, Wisc.
Sterling silver can raise the price on a piece of jewelry, and since the price of silver fluctuates daily, makers must consider this when pricing an item.
The mine that produced the gem can influence its price: certain mines are more well-known, and some mines produce fewer stones, increasing their value. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to local designers or boutiques; most makers are happy to educate you about where their turquoise comes from.
Trendy But Timeless
The squash blossom necklace is one of the most popular turquoise necklace styles. Typically, the design is centered around a “naja,” which is the Navajo word for “crescent.” The crescent hangs inverted at the bottom of a beautifully decorated necklace.
This Native American design has evolved over the years, but it always makes a bold statement. Squash blossom necklaces are typically splurge-worthy collector’s pieces, but you can also find inexpensive versions made from crushed turquoise or reconstituted turquoise.
Reconstituted turquoise is composed of ground up bits of turquoise mixed with resin or other materials, Ingalls explains. This blend is usually cut into shapes or formed into beads. Since it is no longer a pure turquoise gemstone, this is reflected in the price. A necklace can have real turquoise in it, but not be made of pure turquoise.
Less expensive gemstones, such as howlite and magnesite, can also be dyed turquoise. This is something to watch for. If the price seems too good to be true, it’s probably not a real turquoise stone.
Genuine Turquoise Jewelry
If you want to own genuine turquoise, buy from a reputable designer or dealer, or buy Native American turquoise that is made in the United States. Fake jewelry passed off as real only devastates the turquoise industry.
Ethically sourced turquoise makers will always offer a receipt or certificate of authenticity. The certificate should include the artist’s name, retail price and description of the item. Ask the designer to sign the receipt or a lead buyer if you are going through a dealer.
Seek out Native American designers on social media and follow them. It’s a fun way to get to know the artist and learn to appreciate the amount of work that goes into your jewelry.
This article about turquoise jewelry appeared in the 2021 special edition of Western Life. Click here to subscribe to Western Life Today!